Religion and Ritual
The Religion & Ritual research program focuses on the complex dynamics of religion and ritual in contemporary Western culture. The aim is to map, identify, analyze and interpret processes of transformation and diversification, particularly in the public domain. A broad and open description of religion and religiosity is the basis of a thorough study of current religious and ritual practices and manifestations. Taking these practices as a starting point, it is our aim to penetrate deeply into our culture.
Parallel to the concept of religion, the program works with an open and dynamic concept of culture, which is not that of culture in a restricted sense (as in a combination like Art & Culture), but with culture as a product of and as a producer of processes of giving meaning. It concerns the introduction of meaningful connections between (seemingly disconnected) elements in reality, the perception of coherence between things, people, images, actions, values. When interpreted as such, culture is connected to giving meaning, to self-understanding and identity. Religion and ritual are approached as being part of culture.
Contemporary culture is fundamentally characterized by ongoing processes of change, dynamics, diversity and plurality. These coincide with a (re)invention, appropriation or new positioning of identities (individual and collective), processes that are characterized by tension and conflict (contested fields and religious interaction), by the flourishing of new phenomena and creativity. Consequently, the main focus of the program is on processes of identity shaping as related to religious and ritual practices that can be found in contemporary European culture.